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  #1    
Old July 16th, 2009, 09:57 PM
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Usually with my antagonists, I like to give them redeeming features that makes them not pure evil. So that at least one point in the story, the reader can see antagonists as vulnerable and even occasionally good.

However, in my next chapter, I wish to introduce a thoroughly unlikable character. I want the reader to be disgusted with him, to root for his downfall and curse at his victories. I think him doing horrible things isn't enough, and glee at doing horrible things for the sake of their horribleness is too cliché.

So, my question is, how would you suggest I make a character unlikable? How do you make (some of) your characters unlikable?
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  #2    
Old July 16th, 2009, 10:09 PM
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With my characters, I try to make the interesting (different from likable), so that the reader can be drawn in to what is happening. Of course than the reader would make the decision if that person was pure evil or not, etc.

I think that your best bet is to make him sadistic, not merely in actions (as you somewhat suggested), but in words, like that he would be indifferent to everyone and everything. Also a character's background can help to determine this. As a reader would not feel sorry for a character who had murdered innocent children and kittens in the past.

If this character of yours has psychic abilities you can use that to your advantage, like that the character would read the mind of others, and ridicule them about it. Like a psychological thriller type of thing.

Also subtle actions and quirks help to make a character unlikable.

Of course you could also go to the opposite side and make a Disney character-like Prince who saves the day and is 200% perfect. No one would like that, but then that might start to include the whole fic if cliched characters like that were introduced XD >.>

Back to my original thoughts, two really good examples of villains that are interesting are Hannibal Lector and the Joker. Now people technically should hate them but because they are fictional, people are intrigued by them. Now step into reality, and you get crazy people like Charles Manson or the Unibomber.

But perhaps a really good example of a bad guy is Lord Voldemort, with all his power and such, the one thing that makes him the scariest thing, is that he is essentially human. That a human is so indifferent to love, thus evidence of his murder spree.

But yeah... XD
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Old July 16th, 2009, 10:37 PM
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Said character caught a kitten on fire and laughed.

Yeah that is horrible sounding.

I guess it will come down to the little things. Like, maybe they will go out of their way to step on the ants. Like, bring out the little and the most subtle actions.

As Feign said, it is about the past. What is the build up to the character? What was his home life like? How was he treated? How does his past affect his actions?

See, you can't really make an unlikeable character, because that comes down to opinion. While someone could be absolutely abhorred at his actions, another could look up to him for them.

Ah, I am rambling....

To wrap this up, you can't make an unlikeable character, because everyone is entitled to their opinion. Make him interesting, but try to do it in a sadistic way. Note the little things and make them stand out.
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  #4    
Old July 16th, 2009, 10:40 PM
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@Feign: I love interesting antagonists, and you're absolutely right - those antagonists are just too interesting to be purely unlikable. This new character I want to make simply unlikable - I have enough interesting antagonists (although many of them still need to be developed). It best fills his role in the plot. The trick is to do this while avoiding clichés, like you noted. :P

@Meneur D'enfer: No, I realise it's not possible to make a universally abhorrent character, where literally everybody hates him, but I'm trying to get as close to that as I can.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 10:42 PM
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This antagonist sounds like he should just be a faceless executioner XD

Though I think the majority of us will be morally sound, so that our opinion of a character will not go askew. :D

You can still give very little detail about a character, and people might still hate the person too. Like just explain a bit of what the character is wearing, and what it is doing in the particular moment. Or just its quirks.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 10:43 PM
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I was rambling... arh.

But from what I have seen when authors want to make particularly nasty characters, they have ones who's only desire is self gain. Those who would do anything to be the best.
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  #7    
Old July 16th, 2009, 10:47 PM
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Yes, I've noticed that too. And there is another challenge. He has a strict role in the plot, and ruthless ambition is not allowed by this role. He is a beta male, one who is comfortable with that position. But at the same time, cruel. As if everyone beneath him is in their rightful place, and everything above him the same. Sorry if this is a vague description, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers. XD;
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Old July 16th, 2009, 10:49 PM
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Oooo that works though, he sounds like a drone that would simply follow orders, nothing more. At the same time, you don't give the reader the thought that it was this drone's choice, he just does it (mind you, not with a saddened voice), but almost like a dogmatic soldier who would run into a combative zone, even if they were outnumbered.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 10:52 PM
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Hrm... he sounds like an apathetic person who really doesn't care and that can often come off as being sadistic and cruel.
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  #10    
Old July 16th, 2009, 10:54 PM
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Hmmm... the mindless drone doesn't have the same effect. He has to be creative and intelligent, I think, and also willing to act outside the orders given. That way he can do some really nasty things on his own volition to those beneath him, which really makes him reprehensible to the reader. (I think.)

A certain level of detachment is necessary, but total apathy... I'm not sure. :/
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Old July 16th, 2009, 11:04 PM
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lol though going in that route, you can still make him interesting, but just unlikable. Hummm *late night brain setting in*
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  #12    
Old July 17th, 2009, 01:04 AM
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Gah, I missed so much here! For a character to be truly disliked by a large percentage of your audience, you need to show him interacting with other characters, and how they react to that. A character that stops in the doorway and gestures Bevan through, while his narrowed eyes are drilling into the back of Bevan's head, may well come across as evil. But the character that simply shoves Bevan out of the way to get through the door will be the one that readers remember as an ******* and automatically dislike.

Physical features can be useful here, too. Bald head, stubbly chin, rounder than a Poke Ball . . . many factors of a person's appearance will speak volumes about their personality and give readers a particular impression. It can be obvious, like Jerry from Shattered. He has bright blue eyes and a wide grin. These two things tell us straight up that he's a happy person. Reading further in and combining it with other attributes mentioned, such as messy hair, we can tell he's fairly happy-go-lucky, content to just cruise through.

It may be more subtle than this, though. Hell, a beard can tell you a lot about a character. Big bushy white ones can belong to grumpy yet good-natured old men. Clipped, brushed ones could belong to a pompous business or politician. A curly black oiled one screams 'bad guy!' Even the way a character is described - as in, the words you use - can make a big difference.

'He was a fairly tall man, with a couple of missing teeth.'

'He towered ominously above everyone else in the room, his open mouth revealing the jagged edges of his remaining teeth.'

The first is bare bones, and tells us nothing. The second is more in-depth, and tells us we shouldn't really like this dude.

'He was an impressive sight, as he dwarfed the rest of the room's occupants. With his gap-toothed grin, however, he looked almost comical.'

The third one gives the same information as the other two, but tells us that this character may well be a lovable rogue or misunderstood giant. It's all in the context.
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  #13    
Old July 17th, 2009, 01:08 AM
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Thank you for your advice, all of you. ^_^ I think I'm far closer to getting an unlikable character now.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 01:53 AM
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Another thing I've noticed authors do to bad guys is make them have nasty habits/collect some gruesome things. In a book called Operation Red Jericho, the main villain collects the little fingers of his prisoners and wears them as a necklace. Then, instead of just killing them, he puts them in chambers and makes them struggle to survive with a high tide, but not die. Then he plans to kill them. Obviously, the protoganist survived, but, you get what I mean - give them nasty little habits/features. Just my two pennies.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 03:57 PM
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Ooh, you're all making me think this is a horror story. Great job. My suggestion: If he had a past love, make him completely ignore them if he comes across them, or, like Sparkling Dragon said earlier, have the past love get in his way, and have him ruthlessly shove them aside.
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  #16    
Old July 17th, 2009, 04:19 PM
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Although my story isn't really horror, I do like your idea, cressalia2001. Trouble is, if I do use it, I'll have to put it in as a variant, otherwise there's a massive spoiler here. XD;
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Old July 17th, 2009, 06:22 PM
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I've read over what the others have suggested, and I'm surprised no one's offered this piece of advice:

Everyone has met someone in real life who just seriously pisses them off. Even if it's a one-time deal or if their repeated appearances make you mentally scream "****head," you genuinely can't stand being around them. They don't even have to be stereotypically evil by doing something stereotypically evil or just looking stereotypically evil. You just hate them because they're dicks.

If you can figure out why you think they're that way to you, you've got your foundation for a genuinely unlikable character.

In other words, sure, evil looks and evil actions will be able to make the audience jeer, but what really gets them going is if they can picture that character in real life. As in, they're not puppy-kickers or whatnot. They're the kinds of people who cut you off on the highway and then ride the breaks all the way to where they're going. In simpler terms, it's not looks so much as personality itself. Do they care about themselves and their agenda more than anything else? Do they like treating people like crap to get what they want? Are they arrogant and loud? Sparky's on the right track with the example of the door, but I say you don't really need the evil beard so much as an added, "Get out of my way. I'm far more awesome than you."

And if you prove that, yeah, no matter how many lessons you try to teach this character, they're still going to be jerks, you're good to go.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 06:39 PM
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Read or watch the Twlight series *gets shot a thousand times*

Agreement on Valentine that having the unlikeable people based off from people from real life can do wonders. For instance, you can base the character from people you can't stand at school or work (Arceus knows how many people at work I'm very annoyed at XD; ).

One example from my work would be Timmy and Lucas from NE, whom I based from the bad policemen my dad bumped into from time to time. XD Another example is Jacob. Basically I have him as the character who won't let anything stand in his way and he would do anything to get what he want. I made him such an unlikable character a couple of my reviewers actually want to shoot him. XD;
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Old July 17th, 2009, 09:25 PM
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But they aren't dicks full time though

On the other hand *points at Cartman* XD
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Old July 17th, 2009, 10:19 PM
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Cartman has the redeeming feature of being ridiculously funny, though. My fic takes itself way too seriously for comic relief villains. :P
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Old July 17th, 2009, 10:30 PM
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Characters I usually end up hating are the ones that are supposed to be on the good guys' side but their actions would better suit a bad guy. Think Denethor from the Lord of the Rings movies.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 10:57 PM
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That's interesting, because I quite like characters who could play for the other team, but for some reason, don't. In the case of some of these, they can be really well-worked into the story - not does one side have to overcome the other, but conflicts in their own side as well.
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Old July 17th, 2009, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Citrinin View Post
That's interesting, because I quite like characters who could play for the other team, but for some reason, don't. In the case of some of these, they can be really well-worked into the story - not does one side have to overcome the other, but conflicts in their own side as well.
That's a major element I'm trying to include in the Chronicles. I have a few characters that mean the main ones nothing but harm, but are technically good guys and have sound reasons for what they do. It's an interesting feature to try and implement.
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Old July 18th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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But they aren't dicks full time though :S
They really don't have to be dicks full time. They just have to be dicks to the characters you really want to like. For a rather egotistical example, Professor Nettle. Totally a feminazi (based on a professor of a course I had to drop or I'd want to take up catching the fuzzy squirrels on campus and lighting them on fire), so she's a ***** to everyone who isn't also a feminist woman. Unfortunately, the main character (towards whom she directs a lot of her anger and frustration) is a man. Ergo, the audience thought she was kind of a *****. And then she turned out to be working for Team Rocket, so it was all good.

tl;dr: Basing the character on a person I thought was a ***** made the audience think she was a ***** too, even if she was capable of being nice. *thumbs up*
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Old July 18th, 2009, 04:12 PM
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haha I see what you did thar

I think I like having the mysterious character, it's just my way of introducing them.
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